In the era that the Thirdwallers affectionately refer to as the Gygax Era, Dungeons and Dragons games were brutal. A look at any of the old modules will show that these games were kill or be killed. This idea has changed a bit – evolving into a better player experience for the most part. There are still hold-outs to its teachings that demand respect. Anyone that can enjoy a game geared so obviously against the player must have jewels the size of Roc eggs.
One lingering effect of this brutal era is a sense of “Us vs. Them” that seems to hang over every gaming session – the idea that the players are at odds against the game master. In my own gaming sessions I’ve had players deliberately hide their plans from me until the last second, for fear that I would re-arrange my game to better oppose them and make a daring plan fall flat! This mentality of hostility must be overcome for a successful game on both sides. The first step toward that elimination is for game masters to rule in the player’s favor when rules disputes could go either way.